Monday, May 9, 2022

My #1 Shopping Bag: A DIY Tote

I love this new shopping tote! Let me tell you how this new tote came to be. My local fabric store decided that they were going green, which meant that they were no longer using plastic bags. They started selling shopping bags and large paper bags to those of us that didn't bring our own bags and didn't want to carry the fabric in our hands. 

Now I don't go to this store that often but I have gone there 2 other times and each time I had forgotten to bring my own bags. Well after this last time I said I need to get a tote to keep in my car, just for my random trips to this store.

I searched for a few tote bags and I came across a few fold-up totes and decided that I could create my own tutorial for my version of a fold-up tote. So here it is.

The Clutch Tote

1 Yard of fabric [If you want the clutch/closure panel in a 
different fabric than the tote you’ll need about 1/4 yd for this piece]
1 Snap closure
Fabric marking tool
Double-sided tape
Large ruler

Cut clutch/closure panel 14 ½” tall X 6 ½” wide [Cut 2]

Cut 2 pieces 19” X 3” for the handles [Cut 2]

Cut bag fabric on the fold 21” tall X 19” wide [Cut 1]

We are going to fold the fabric like double-folded bias tape. Lengthwise fold the raw edges towards the middle and press. Now fold inwards again and press.

Now add topstitching along both sides of each handle.

Clutch closure:: Fold the strips in half lengthwise. Using something round, place it on the raw edge corner. Trace the round item to create the rounded corners. Cut off the excess fabric. Make sure you do this to both pieces.

Place these two pieces with the right sides together and stitch all the way around leaving an opening on one side wide enough to turn the piece to the right side.

Clip into the rounded seams.

Turn to the right side and press.

If you want to add your label to the clutch piece add it now.

Add two rows of topstitching all the way around the piece & press.

Add the snap. 

The head/female of the snap should be on the outside [right side] of the rounded end 1” from the edge in the center.

The male end of the snap should be on the straight end 1” from the edge in the center. Make sure that the male snap is on the outside [right side].

Test the placement to make sure the snaps are facing the right direction to be able to close.

Tote bag:: This piece should be cut on the fold.

    We are adding French seams to this unlined tote. With the right side facing out and the wrong side facing each other. Stitch the sides closed with a ¼” seam and press.

Turn the bag inside out, the wrong side facing you, and stitch with a ½” seam.

Now turn the bag to the right side and press. Make sure the corners are nice and pointy.

Now we need to hem the top. Fold it down ¼” press and then fold down 1” and press. Stitch the hem.

Attaching the clutch to the tote:: Measure up 10” from the bottom of the clutch piece and draw a line across the width.

Find the center and mark it for placement on the bag.

Now locate the center of the bag and mark it at the top.

Place one side of the bag on the clutch piece, matching the center marks.

Pin the clutch piece to the bag along the hemmed top.

Flip the bag over so the clutch piece is on the top. Now peel back the clutch piece so you can add the double-sided tape to the underside. Once you have added the tape to all sides, flip it back on the bag and press down with your hands to make sure the tape has fused the clutch to the bag. This will allow you to stitch this piece to the bag without having to use pins.

Make sure you stitch on top of the first row of topstitching that is already on the clutch piece.

Attaching the handles:: Fold the ends under about ¼” and place on the bag and pin in place about 1” from the clutch piece on each side.

Secure the ends of the handles to the bag. I just made squares.

Press the bag and you are done sewing.

Folding the finished bag

1. Lay the bag flat with the clutch side on the bottom.

2. Lay the handles flat.

3. Fold one side inward, the folded edge should meet with the clutch edge.

4. Fold the other side inward over the side.

5. Fold the tote in half.

6. Fold it in half again.

7. Fold down the top & snap closed.

Thanks for stopping by and if you make a clutch tote be sure to tag me!!



  1. I love it!! Will definitely be making a few of these this summer. A lot of stores here are going bagless and selling reusable bags. The compact design is what got my attention. Thanks for posting this!

    1. Hi Robin, Yeah I see that happening all over. I love the fact that it looks like a clutch or wallet! You can even make a more compact version of this project with different measurements and thinner fabrics.

  2. Thanks for the tute Michelle! I can't tag you yet, but I pinned it because it would be so handy when I leave my reusable bags at home yet again. (In New York State we have no single use plastic bags, and paper bags are 5 cents by law.)
    AND, I just have to say that your glasses are fabulous!

    1. Hey Lodi!!! My daughter bet me that the new tote wasn't going to make it into my car....but today when I ran to the post office I put my new tote with my packages so I wouldn't forget it. It's in the car!! #winning Oh and the glasses are fun aren't they? Thank you for stopping by the blog!

  3. Such a thorough tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

    1. You're welcome, that's what we are here for! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  4. Nice totes and I love the fabric choices also ... FIESTA :)

    1. Right! I love this fabric. it's not thick which is what you need for this project.

  5. Great tutorial, thanks! And a very stylish bag too. I’ll be trying this one for sure.

    1. It's too easy for you not to try it!!! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Thanks for a great tutorial.


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